Parents have been using baby walkers, playpens and jumpers for many years. But these all come with cautions. Here's some advice to make sure you use them safely - if you use them at all.
Baby walkers with wheels have been banned in Canada since 2004 because they pose serious and sometimes catastrophic risks. For example:
- Incidents where babies in walkers fall down stairs are the primary cause of serious head injuries for children under the age of two.
- Babies in walkers can move very quickly, encounter dangerous and often hidden obstacles, bump into furniture and corners, pull on hanging appliance cords, roll down stairs, reach for hot items, tip over, or fall into swimming pools.
Never use a baby walker, whether new or second hand. Rather, use a wheel-less, colourful stationary activity centre that doesn’t move around on the floor (such as an Exersaucer™). Make sure it's in a safe place where your baby can't reach dangerous items while playing in it.
For more information on the hazards of baby walkers, visit the Health Canada website.
Jumpers (also called Jolly Jumpers™) don't help your baby walk sooner. In fact, they may cause injuries because your baby will likely try to walk before he's developed good leg control. It's better to let your baby explore and be active on the floor.
Many new parents buy playpens for their babies, but strict guidelines should be followed to ensure playpens are safe:
- Playpen walls should be made of mosquito-type netting. Your own little finger must not be able to pass through the mesh.
- Product should have no more than two wheels or casters and walls must be at least 48 cm (19 inches) high.
- All parts must be free from rough or sharp edges. Hinges should be designed to prevent pinching or unintended collapse.
- Any open holes drilled in metal, plastic, or wood components should be less than three mm or more than 10 mm in diameter.
- All parts small enough for a baby to choke on must be firmly attached.
- Vinyl rails and mattress pads should not be torn.
- All four sides of the playpen must be fixed firmly in the fully raised position.
- Do not put scarves, necklaces, long cords, pillows, or large toys in a playpen.
- Frequently check for recalls - many brands of playpens made in the 1990s have been recalled because of the risk of death and injury to babies.
- Before accepting a second hand playpen or portable crib, always check the condition of the item first.
Resources & Links:
HealthLink BC: Nursery Equipment Safety Checklist